Since 2010 not much has happened to the Apple TV service and in many respects it has been the neglected young sibling in a family of more successful mobile and tablet devices.
So just in time for the Christmas season, the fourth generation set top box hits the market, packed with a more intuitive menu system and a new series of be-spoke apps that turn the device into a gaming system, that encroaches on a space more natural to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Larger than the previous Apple TV – it’s roughly twice the thickness – the unit also comes with a new remote that incorporates a touch system, which we found to be a little sensitive at first but it becomes easier to use once you understand the mechanics.
It has also been designed with gaming in mind and that is one of the major new services of the device, with a growing library of apps that now play straight onto your TV. It’s a Trojan Horse approach that could really undermine the traditional place console gaming has occupied for over 20 years if the content improves.
Of course many of the early release titles are basic in design and whilst Apple TV does have some credible power under the hood, it’s certainly no match for the likes of a PS4.
The company’s much vaunted Siri system also comes into its own, with a voice search facility that actually works pretty well and brings a new dimension to the service.
The menu has been redesigned but my early impressions are that it still needs a little more thought before it works as I would really like it to.
For a lot of people the upgrade benefits might not be enough to warrant the purchase – it certainly doesn’t have some of the features of competitor devices from the likes of Amazon – and the omission of 4K support is a bit of an oversight. This will be a non-issue for those who want to be on the bleeding edge of quality.
The initiated won’t find this a hard sell. For those new to the house of Apple, this is a complete streaming service that clearly has the ability to expand over time and deliver a multi-layered entertainment platform that certainly has the potential to shine.
The New Apple TV is out now in two formats – a 32GB model priced at £129 and a 64GB model at £169. If you’re thinking about downloading a large number of apps then the bigger memory would be advisable but just for content streaming the lower spec device should do just fine.
George R Vaughan